This New Podcast Will Change the Way You Think About Philly Teens

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It seems that podcasts come and go from our cultural conversation. There’s no talk about them, and then something like Serial happens. Then they go away again until a series such as S-Town comes along, and once again we’re all taking about podcasts.

Well, it was around the same time that all of the controversy over S-Town was bubbling up that we learned about Mouthful, a brand new podcast featuring the real-life and often gritty stories of Philly teens.

And while Mouthful doesn’t have the tension of a Serial or the deep darkness of an S-Town, lighthearted it is not. These are moving first-person narratives that shed a light on just how difficult it is to be a teenager today.

Take, for instance, Mouthful, Episode One: One Hundred Sleepless Nights. This first episode is based on a monologue written by Hunter M., a trans high school senior in Philadelphia, and it focuses on issues surrounding trans and non-binary identities.

During the 21-minute episode, host and co-producer Yvonne Latty, a former Daily News reporter and current NYU prof, interviews Hunter M. and teens at Philly LGBTQ youth center The Attic, and transgender TV actor Scott Turner Schofield (you’d know him if you enjoy the guilty pleasure known as The Bold and the Beautiful) performs Hunter M.’s monologue. It’s an intimate, gripping portrait of a trans teenager.

The second episode doesn’t let up.

Mouthful, Episode Two: Comfort features a story written by Science Leadership Academy student Taytiana Velazquez-Rivera, who pens blog posts like “The School to Slavery Pipeline”.

Comfort is all about eating disorders and being an obese kid.

Taysha Canales

Taysha Canales

Noted Philly actress Taysha Canales (she plays Hermia in the Arden’s fantastic Midsummer Night’s Dream, which closes this week), performs Velazquez-Rivera’s sad, insightful monologue, and local clinical psychologist Samantha DeCaro weighs in with her experience treating teens with eating disorders.

By the third episode, we’ve arrived at an examination of race.

Mouthful, Episode Three: Pedestals tells us what it’s like to be a student of color in a school that’s mostly white. In Pedestals, Latty interviews high school students of color who attend private schools in the area, including Olivia Nelson-Haynes, a Penn Charter student who made a video called The Black Boy Project, in which she interviewed black male teens about their experiences.

Nelson-Haynes is also the daughter of Mouthful executive producer Lisa Nelson-Haynes, the head of Philadelphia Young Playwrights. That’s the organization behind the Mouthful podcast.

The episode also includes some perspective from Latty and her own daughter, Nola, a student at Friends Select School.

Yvonne Latty

Yvonne Latty

“As a parent, I am constantly amazed by the complexity of being a teenager today,” says Latty, who has raised two teenagers of her own. “It is not an easy time, filled with rapid change, struggle and awareness. Working on Mouthful has opened my eyes to so much. It has helped me be a better mom, because when you hear these kids express their joys, fears, and hopes so honestly, it opens you up. It makes you look at your own kids and want to listen, really listen, in a way you didn’t before.”

Mouthful officially launched on Thursday, April 13th on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and Soundcloud.

The first season of Mouthful is currently slated for ten episodes. Its launch coincides with Philadelphia Young Playwrights’ High School Monologue Festival at the Drake, which features performances of new monologues written by 18 high school students from across the region. Thursday’s opening night show is sold out, but it runs through April 22nd.

As for Mouthful, it will make you change the way you think about Philly teens — and teens in general — and if you have kids who haven’t quite hit those years, it may be a real eye-opener.

Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter

Arrests Made, One Officer Injured in Center City Teen Flash Mob

A flash mob that involved hundreds of kids yesterday in Center City left one police officer injured and reportedly resulted in the arrest of about 10 teenagers.

Officials told the Philly.com that the officer was injured around 5:30 p.m., when police first received calls informing them of a large group of teens fighting around the 1500 block of Chestnut Street. The officer reportedly suffered minor injuries.

SEPTA Transit Police Chief Thomas J. Nestel III said transit police arrested 10 teens as the flash mobs continued to break out. Four teens are awaiting possible aggravated assault charges, according to Philly.com.

Nestel tweeted that the flash mob was “definitely the worst” he’s seen.

According to 6ABC, one boy who was allegedly assaulted in the subway was taken to Jefferson University Hospital for observation.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.

Cultural Alliance Hosts Free Old City Museum Crawl for Teens

Tomorrow afternoon, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance‘s STAMP program, an initiative to get young people out to Philly’s cultural attractions, will host an Old City museum crawl for area teens aged 14-19.

The day starts at the National Constitution Center (NCC) at 3:30 pm. From there, teens can venture out to explore participating museums in the vicinity, which include the African American Museum, National Liberty Museum, National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia History Museum and Independence Visitor Center.

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Pennsport Teens Buying Alcohol from Cornhole-Playing Men Under I-95

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And now for another edition of Drunk, Out of Control Philadelphia Teenagers!

Last month at a Radio 104.5 block party show at the Piazza, some of the teenagers got rowdy! A neighbor saw drunk teens urinated all over her “entire” house; another said he filmed teens having sex out in the open. One person went to NBC 10, which filed a typical local news-style report.

If you ever need to know the difference between the people who live in Northern Liberties and the people who live in Pennsport, please refer to this story: When a parent in Pennsport saw a group of “between 100 and 150” teens drinking on one of the piers south of the Walmart in Pennsport, he didn’t go to NBC 10. No, his story ended up on PlanPhilly, where Kellie Patrick Gates filed a decidedly un-local news-like report. And look how reasonable people in South Philly are!

“These kids aren’t doing anything that you or I didn’t do, or anybody else,” said Pennsport Civic Association President Jim Moylan. But, he said, they are doing it in a much more dangerous area than dark areas beneath I-95. And if someone got hurt, they are “thousands of yards away from civilization.”

This is about as nice as you can be when tattling on teenagers for, essentially, drinking in the woods.

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#YourSexualHealthMatters Teen Pregnancy Prevention Campaign Launches in Philly

#imatter

Photo via I Matter

The birds and the bees talk is awkward, to say the least. Most teens are too busy trying to diffuse their embarrassment with exaggerated eye rolls and snarky remarks to actually absorb any valuable information concerning their sexual health. So the Philly-based Family Planning Council’s I MATTER Teen Pregnancy Prevention Project is taking a more teen-friendly approach to the sex-talk. And what’s more teen-friendly than, well, other teens doing the talking?

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Kids With Lesbian Moms Are Alright

Photo by Think Stock

Sorry, Mitt, but it turns out that teens with lesbian mothers are successful and happy with their lives, according to a new report from the U. S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study. Even though Romney has come out against same-sex parenting, he should probably consider that the 17-year-olds participating in this, the longest-running study of lesbian families, not only had stellar high school GPAs in the A and B range, but nearly all planned to attend four-year colleges.

These kids also had strong family bonds, and they were nearly unanimous in describing their mothers as “good role models.” They also make friends with plenty of straight peers – and most say they feel comfortable bringing friends home and being open about their mom’s sexual orientation.
“We have been following these families for 26 years,” says Dr. Nanette Gartrell at the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law in California. “These kids were planned and their lesbian mothers were very engaged in parenting. At the end of high school, the teens tell us that they have excellent grades, feel connected to their families and friends, and admire their parents. As a psychiatrist, I can say that these are the types of childrearing outcomes that every parent hopes for.”

I Want to Know What It’s Like

Los Angeles filmmaker Ryan James Yezak has done it again. You might remember his trailer for the film “What Homosexuality is Not,” but Yezak has since worked with teens at one Southern California high school to create a new video project. “I Want to Know What It’s Like” features students and teachers who express their hopes for gay rights legislation in a thought-provoking poetic format.

Check it out:

HRC’s LGBT Youth Survey

Do you feel like you fit in? Is there someone you can turn to? These are just a few of the questions HRC hopes to answer in its latest survey of LGBT teens around the country.

Intended to shed a little light on LGBT youth from all corners of the U.S. – and the issues most impacting them – the survey’s designed for teens between the ages of 13 and 18 who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning.

If you fit the demographic – or know someone who does – please share the survey today and have your say. Parents who are reading this: Consider forwarding the link to your own own child’s school or find out if there’s a local GSA in your district. The results will be used by organizations around the country to better serve LGBT youth.

Dear 40-Year-Old Me

Taking a page from the “It Gets Better” book, a group of LGBT teens from the Midwest created a video in which they address their 4o-year-old selves. The young advocates from the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance talk about everything from their hopes and dreams to coming out and bullying, but all seem to envision a world where hate seems more like ancient history in this moving, incredibly honest video.

Check it out:

What We Love: OK4U2BGAY

Courtesy of H8SUX

Kids who are being bullied may rarely think they have a voice. But thanks to a new T-shirt company, tweens and teens have another way to speak out about LGBT issues that are important to them.

H8SUK introduced a new line of merchandise that talks frankly about being gay, being bullied and wanting equality regardless of sexual orientation or gender. The goal, says the company’s mission statement, is to encourage kids to stand up for themselves and each other using fashion.

“We are recruiting kids to the cause of promoting the acceptance of homosexuality in schools,” says Luke Montgomery, director of a new H8SUX video about the company’s T-shirt campaign. “In a world full of bullies, suicide and hate, thousands of school kids wearing a pro-gay message in classrooms can be lifesaving and great. Kids are born gay, lesbian, bi and trans – and when I came out at 15, I was brutally beaten and left unconscious and bloody in a ditch. In 2012, kids should not be bullied and attacked just for being who they are.”

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